A Look Back: PFF Offers Astounding Grade for Vikings 2020 Draft Class
The recent turmoil surrounding the Minnesota Vikings and the NFL Draft is rightly recency-centric. GM Rick Spielman was able to outfit an offensive line of organically selected players following the 2021 NFL Draft, while also drafting a potential quarterback for the future at Kellen Mond.
Most draft pundits praised the Vikings for a job well done in the April draft, increasing optimism for the franchise after a 7-9 season in 2020. Spielman traded nine spots in the 1st round – and still has found offensive linemen in Christian Darrisaw and Wyatt Davis as a direct result of bartering with the New York Jets.
Thursday, Focus on professional football went back on the 2020 NFL Draft, which took place 13 months ago. By retroactive analysis, PFF gave the Vikings an “A +” rating for their draw in the pandemic draft. Justin Jefferson, finalist for the Offensive Rookie of the Year 2020 award, was even used as a promotional image at the top of the article.
Mike Renner from PFF wrote:
“While the Jeff Gladney pickup is up in smoke at this point, the Vikings may have walked away with three quality starters in the first three rounds. Justin Jefferson is evident after breaking the rookie receiving record, but Cameron Dantzler was quietly the second highest-rated rookie turn after a strong second half of the season.
Immediately after the 2020 draft, Minnesota earned an “ A ” rating. Due to Jefferson’s seismic evasion performance, this score was rounded to perfect – an “A +”.
And the note is not reserved for Jefferson, although the pass-catcher was the crush. Jeff Gladney showed promise last season, generating a rambling reputation for hard knocks. He was a 1st round pick after Jefferson and enjoyed ample playing time. However, Gladney is mired in legal issues at the moment. He is accused of assaulting his girlfriend in Texas – a situation that has been rather silent for the past six weeks. So the verdict is still on Gladney quite literally.
Her running mate, Cameron Dantzler, was gorgeous. Renner called him the “second best” first-year CB, but it’s unclear who’s ahead of the former Mississippi state student:
Maybe there is a player who qualified for snaps or something like that. Otherwise, Dantzler was top of the list for rookie cornerbacking.
Then Ezra Cleveland – left tackle turned guard – started during important games of 2020. At right guard, Cleveland played 57% of all offensive shots in 2020, accelerating his development. Guard play was suspect last season as Dakota Dozier and Dru Samia recorded heinous PFF ratings. As a result, offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak slipped Cleveland to a place of need. It worked. Cleveland should now begin to left guard in September, ensuring that the blind side of quarterback Kirk Cousins is now entirely in the hands of rookies.
Defensive end DJ Wonnum also saw reps and he was a rookie out of Round 4. He notably stripped Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers to secure the Vikings victory at Lambeau field, which turned out to be the most impressive win of the season for Minnesota. Wonnum has room to mature as his PFF score was 51.1 in 2020.
For now, however, the cumulative impact of the Vikings 2020 Draft Class scores at the top of PFF’s radar. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers were the only other franchise to score an “ A + ” in the reflective analysis of Renner’s 2020 Draft.